Our very own Carolina Ilic was recently recognized as both the SDAPA Mentorship Program’s Mentor of the Year and the San Diego State University (SDSU) School of Public Affairs’ Outstanding Alumni of the Year for 2018! Those of you who have met Carolina know that both of these awards are very well-deserved.

Carolina has worked in the planning field in San Diego for almost 25 years. She started her career at SANDAG as an intern while completing her Masters in City Planning at SDSU. Since then, she has been consistently committed to serving the San Diego region through her work at SANDAG and devotion to the APA community and young planners throughout the region.

Year after year, Carolina has dedicated her time and efforts to mentoring young people to be the best they can be. Her commitment, encouragement, approachability, and constructive feedback are recognized and highly regarded by each protégé who has been lucky enough to have her during her service to the Mentorship Program. Furthermore, Carolina does not limit her mentoring to the APA Mentorship Program – a few of us often joke that Carolina can find a protégé to mentor anywhere she goes. Carolina seeks opportunities to give back to the community and is always willing to provide guidance and direction to young planners.

Carolina was also recently awarded the SDSU Outstanding Alumni of the Year award which honors individuals for their professional accomplishments and overall contributions to the field of city planning. Carolina accepted the award and delivered the keynote speech for the Awards Ceremony recognizing the Class of 2018. In her speech, Carolina emphasized current challenges we face: “Our region, our state, our nation, and our world face enormous challenges: climate change, sustainability, public health, economic prosperity, affordable housing, transportation, social equity, and environmental justice. And our professions – city planning, public administration, and criminal justice have a fundamental role to play in the solutions to these challenges.” She encouraged the Class of 2018 to work together with previous generations and, more importantly, remember the importance of giving back. She said, “The number one thing we need is a desire to make a difference in this world. That desire to make a difference is critical to our motivation, to our well-being, to defining the core of who we are, and to arriving at our very own identity, both personally and professionally.”

Carolina – your desire to make a difference in the world is unmistakable and contagious. Congratulations on earning the titles of 2018 APA Mentor of the Year and 2018 SDSU Outstanding Alumni of the Year and thank you for being a wonderful mentor to so many of us!

By Kiran Kaur, LEED Green Associate, Environmental Planner, SANDAG (a former intern and protégé of Carolina)